A property maintenance firm has been prosecuted after being caught not providing edge protection during two surprise site visits by HSE inspectors.
On 29 January 2010, the HSE received a tip-off from a member of the public that workers were cleaning the roof of a bungalow in Heswell, Wirral, without any edge protection. HSE inspector, Michael Hodge, visited the scene the same day and saw one of the workers standing at the ridge of the roof, more than four metres above the ground, and another man working on the rear of the roof.
The inspector asked both men to stop work so he could question them. They informed him that they had been contracted by Canova UK Ltd to clean moss off the bungalow roof with a pressure washer, and to then carry out repairs to the garage roof at the property. Inspector Hodge immediately issued a Prohibition Notice ordering work to stop until sufficient edge protection was put in place.
The company had been issued a Prohibition Notice three months earlier for a similar incident, when another inspector visited a property in Neston, Wirral and found workers on the roof without edge protection.
Inspector Hodge told SHP that the firm should have learned lessons from the original enforcement notice. He said:
“It’s extremely disappointing that Canova UK allowed two [individuals] to work on a roof without safety equipment, despite receiving a formal warning over a similar incident less than four months earlier.
“If either of the workers had slipped and fallen, they would have been seriously injured, or even killed. We therefore had no other choice but to prosecute the company.
“Falls from height are among the biggest causes of workplace deaths in the UK. Roofing firms should therefore ensure they have safe systems of work in place to protect workers.”
Canova UK appeared at Wirral Magistrates’ Court on 24 March and pleaded guilty to breaching reg. 6(3) of the Work at Height Regulations 2005. It was fined £2000 and ordered to pay £1500 in costs.
In mitigation, the firm said it had no previous convictions and confirmed edge protection was installed before work continued at both sites.
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